John 21:21-22 When Peter saw [John], he asked, “Lord, what about him?” Jesus answered, “If I want him to remain alive until I return, what is that to you? You must follow me.”
In the age of ’Facebook’ and other social media, it is important for us to reflect on this statement by Jesus. While social media might have many valuable uses for us as followers of Jesus, the great harm being done by this technology today cannot be ignored.
The temptation to use these platforms to feed our fallen egotistical nature, to compete with each other in maximising our ‘followers’ and to always present ourselves in the best possible light so that others might envy us, can be too strong to resist. In a society that places great value on self-esteem and whitewashes personal failure and culpability (in other words, that refuses to acknowledge the reality of sin), this trend can (and does) play psychological havoc, particularly, but not exclusively, with young people.
I have recently been reading John MacArthur Jnr’s “The Vanishing Conscience” which is quite a frightening exposure of the effects of this, and where all this is heading! Jesus is calling and challenging us to only ‘follow’ HIS ‘facebook’ post which is recorded so clearly for us, not only in the four Gospels, but in the whole of Scripture from Genesis to Revelation (cf Luke 24:27 – “And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, [Jesus] explained to [Cleopas and his friend on the road to Emmaus] what was said in ALL THE SCRIPTURES concerning HIMSELF.”).
Yes, we ARE to be concerned for one another’s personal welfare, but only in a ‘caring’ sense, and never in a ‘comparative’ sense – as Peter was in relation to his fellow-disciple, John, on this occasion. God has given me a personality that has little trouble with ‘weeping with those who weep’, but finds it a bit more of a challenge to ‘rejoice with those who rejoice’ (Romans 12:15), especially when they are rejoicing in some blessing or success that I am witnessing through green eyes! I need to hear Jesus saying afresh, “What is that to you? You must follow ME”, and to hear this in the light of his other statements like: “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.” (Luke 9:23; cf Matthew 10:28; 16:24; Mark 8:34). My task is not to pamper my self-esteem, but to say with John the Baptist in reference to Jesus: “He must become greater; I must become less.” (John 3:30).